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Kirk Goldsberry Explains How The Game Has Changed From 2001 To 2020

Credit: Kirk Goldsberry

Credit: Kirk Goldsberry

The NBA is constantly changing, always evolving and right now we have a league that’s completely different from the one we had at the beginning of the century. 20 years later, we find a league with a whole different style of play, with different styles of players and different styles of shots.

3-pointers have become more and more important in the league thanks to players like Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and that’s visible when we compare the beginning of the decade with the current moment. ESPN’s Kirk Goldsberry presented a graphic showing the top 200 shot locations in the league in 2001/02 and now.

In the graphic, you can see how mid-range is disappearing, if it’s not completely disappeared, while points at the paint and from beyond the arc are the favorite of the players. Being a perimeter shooter is the new cool in the NBA and that chart shows it very clear. Right now every player is trying to develop a 3-point shot to extend their careers in the league.

That’s why it’s not a shock when we see players like James Harden improving his 3-point percentage year after year, as he keeps getting more and more shots.

Right now, Harden shoots 13.6 triples per game, trying 517 in total. Stephen Curry, the main responsible for this whole ‘revolution’, was trying 9.3 3-PT attempts per game before his hand injury, averaging 24.3 percent from deep.

To put things into perspective, Ray Allen made 3.3 3-point shots in the 2001/02 season. This year, James Harden is making 5.3 of those shots. Antoine Walker was the player who attempted more triples with 8.0 at the beginning of the 2000s, while Harden is attempting 13.6 triples every time he steps on the court.

Right now any player needs to develop a 3-point shot. Even Dwight Howard has developed one and he’s currently averaging 60% from beyond the arc. Just like Howard, several other big men are trying to perfect this shot and add more weapons to their arsenal.

However, it’s interesting to see how the mid-range is disappearing, causing more and more concern among fans. The only certain thing now is that the NBA has changed, that players aren’t the same they used to be and that such a situation has taken the league to the next level, giving fans more entertaining.